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Indirect Questions

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  • #810526 Reply
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    Question

    My husband has a way of asking questions, and I’m wondering if any of you have dealt with something similar or have advice. It’s not a big deal, but it is mildly annoying.
    He asks a lot of indirect questions. This isn’t an exact example, but illustrates the point. Like if we’re taking a walk with the dog, he might ask me “do you want to turn right towards the pool?” And I might say, “No, I want to go left towards the mailbox and get the mail on the way.” “Didn’t you want to see the progress they’re making on the pool?” “Yeah, but I saw it when I drove by earlier today. Let’s go get the mail.” Then he might just start walking towards the pool anyway with the dog, so then I’m annoyed that he disregarded me, feeling like why ask my opinion if you didn’t actually care about it? Of if I have the dog and start walking towards the mailbox, he gets annoyed that I didn’t “let” him go to the pool. When in my mind, I didn’t realize at that point that HE wanted to walk by the pool; I thought he was was asking for my opinion as being considerate. If he had said to begin with, “hey, I’d like to walk by the pool and see the progress they’re making.” I would have said “Okay, yeah! And then let’s double-back and get the mail.”
    I’ve already told him that I’d appreciate it if he’d ask direct questions and tell me what he really wants. I would be happy to go along with what he wants knowing it makes him happy, and he’d be happier in the long-run getting his wishes met. The issue hasn’t gone away though. I’ve taken to sometimes when he asks a question like that, saying back to him “are you asking because you genuinely want to know my preference or because that’s what you want to do?” Which gets the job done, but I feel accusatory saying it. Any other strategies you’d suggest? Or am I missing something by not realizing initially what the meaning is behind his questions? Am I bad at reading normal social cues?

    #810529 Reply
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    Northern Star

    I’d say you’re just bad at reading YOUR HUSBAND’S cues. At this point, you know his questions are pretty much preference statements. Annoying, yes. But this is how he is.

    Seems to me, if you are still not sure, it would be easiest to say, “No, I don’t want to do x. Do YOU?” Just follow up by asking if it’s a preference or not.

    My husband does something similar, and I know now that he’s often simply thinking out loud/formulating his plans when he asks the initial question.

    #810530 Reply
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    Kate
    Keymaster

    He’s asking if you’d like to do something specific, and when he does that, it means that’s what he’d like to do. It would be nice to go ahead and go along with it if it’s no problem for you. I mean, just take it as, he’s asking if you’d like to do the same thing he has in mind that he’d like to do.

    #810532 Reply
    bittergaymark
    Bittergaymark

    Christ. You must be a real joy to live with, LW.

    #810534 Reply
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    JD

    Probably should have hammered this out pre wedding. You know he does this so respond “sure if you’d like to that’d be nice”. I’m pretty direct so it would kind of annoy me but at this point since you know he does it light just be easier to be the direct one.

    #810537 Reply
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    Rangerchic
    Participant

    I get where your coming from LW. Idk if I can describe it but my husband things differently than I do (and I don’t mean yeah because he’s a different person – it’s like he thinks with left brain and I think with right brain). After 20 years of marriage, I can usually decipher what he is really asking because being direct isn’t how he is. Sometimes, I miss the cues. And we go round and round until he finally gets to the direct question he really wants an answer to. And then I say, why didn’t you just ask that question? And he says he didn’t think to. Of course, I can’t think of any examples right now. I like Northern Star’s response on how to respond.

    #810538 Reply
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    Essie
    Participant

    It seems to be a harmless quirk in the way he communicates. I’m not seeing it as manipulative or anything like that, though I can see how it could be a little annoying.

    I suppose you could try couples counseling, if you really can’t tolerate it, but it seems to me that it would be easier to just assume he means “I want to go to the pool.” Translate it in your head. Your language is to make a direct statement of your preference, his is to frame it as a question. Translate it into your language.

    #810539 Reply
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    SpaceySteph
    Participant

    The thing that takes it from harmless quirk is that it seems to lead to fights. But I agree if you know this is how he asks, why not adapt yourself rather than change him?
    In your example he asks if you want to go by the pool, why not say “I was thinking we should get mail, but we can go by the pool first if you want.” Boom, done. He does want, he says so, nobody gets mad and walks off with the dog in the opposite direction from the other.

    Marriage is (hopefully) long, you gotta let the little things go.

    #810540 Reply
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    Questions

    Thanks all. This isn’t like a fight that we’re getting into, but it is annoying when it happens. We’ve been married about a year and we definitely communicate differently, so it’s figuring out how to come together. He’s also really sarcastic and jokes a lot, and sometimes I think he’s being serious. He doesn’t understand how I could possibly take him seriously and I don’t understand that what he’s saying isn’t true. I’m starting to get it though. Funny thing happened a few months ago. He went out of town for work a few days shortly after we got our dog so it was going to be my first time with the dog by myself. His mom called to ask how it was going and I told her all about how great it was, he didn’t have any accidents, played fetch, and we were having so much fun. Her response “that bad, huh?” To which I was so confused, I was like, no, it was great! I don’t get it, that bad? And she reaponded, we’ll i assumed you were being sarcastic. And then it clicked, I was like oooooh, This is normal to him to say the opposite of what he means. So yeah, we’re learning. I hope I am a joy to live with for the long haul!

    #810547 Reply
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    Questions

    I noticed it again with his mom when she came to stay with us at Thanksgiving. He asked her one morning if she wanted her eggs fried or scrambled. She said scrambled. He made her fried eggs and said when handing it to her that he wanted fried eggs and it was easier to make them the same. To which she said that’s actually what she wanted anyway, but she thought scrambled was easier and so had said that. It’s like a foreign language to me: asking a question when you don’t actually plan on using the information, and answering a direct question the opposite of what you want.

    #810548 Reply
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    dinoceros
    Member

    I’d agree that this is just something you have to learn. It sounds like you’ve noticed the pattern of how he talks and can recognize it, so I guess I’m curious if you truly are misunderstanding him in the moment or if you just find it annoying and choose not to respond in the same way? I’m not saying this to criticize. I do that with some social habits that annoy me. For example, I have students who will linger outside my office and won’t say anything to me, and they just are waiting for me to acknowledge them. But I find it silly that they won’t just say hello or knock, so I just keep working until they say something.

    Anyway, whether or not you know in the moment what his point is or not, like you acknowledge, it’s just learning his language. I’d also say that if you know what he’s getting at, it might be easier to just say something like, “Oh, did you want to go see the pool?” rather than just answering the question and waiting to see what he says next.

    #810553 Reply
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    JD

    The eggs thing is freaking bizarre.

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